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Old 10-29-2015, 02:26 PM   #1
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Toronto , Ontario
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Itchy trigger finger...need help!

Hello All! We are a family of five with kids aged 8, 5 and 2 located in Toronto, Canada. We are new to RVing and Airstreams but we are on the verge of pulling the trigger on a 2016 FC 30FB Bunk. I would really appreciate any tips, advice or recommendations you might have for somebody who is currently negotiating this big purchase.

What really attracted us to Airstream was the ability ability to do winter ski trips. In fact, it was this blog post that really got us excited: Winter Camping Airstream Style » Just 5 More Minutes

I will search this forum for a winter camping section/thread but I would also really appreciate any information sources, blogs, recommendations for winter camping in an Airstream.

Thanks so much for any information you can provide! Can't wait to hit the road and rack up the adventures!

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Old 10-30-2015, 07:38 AM   #2
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Winter Camping Airstream Style is an interesting Blog, but the camping environment is not really applicable to our neck of the woods. We have managed to camp when it was about -10c max. And then lower than that it gets real tricky. The Airstream must be winterized to prevent nasty damage to pipes and tanks. Once it is winterized and there is no snow, you are ok for a bit but you will need 40 gal propane tanks. If you intend on going skiing, then there will be snow, and subsequent real nasty damage to the undercarriage caused by the inevitable road salt. I have just finished replacing a number of rivets on the underbelly and am afraid to look at areas where the salt penetrates. My winter use has been limited to one or two days a year trying to escape south and I vary routes in order to avoid snow. Cold not so much, but again the salt is real bad news. There are others in Toronto Airstreaming with the same size families and similar size Airstreams. Winter use or not, you are about to have a lot of fun. Jim

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Old 10-30-2015, 09:27 AM   #3
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Chilly in the winter season due to limited insulation and lots of exposed metal ...
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Old 10-30-2015, 09:34 AM   #4
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A reality is the Airstream is a lousy winter camper because of it's somewhat exposed plumbing system, poor insulation/lots of single pane glass, difficulty controlling condensation from a family living, bathing, and cooking in it, and susceptibility to serious corrosion on the aluminum shell and under body steel components when traveling on salted winter roads.

It's designed to be a three-season camper.
Doug and Cheryl
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Old 10-30-2015, 09:37 AM   #5
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Welcome Bearskin.
My wife and I live in Barrie and use our Airstream year round. Last year we spend both the family day weekend and march break at MacGregor PP near Port Elgin. Last year with just had the 16' foot Bambi (we now have a 22FB). I bought a large roll of reflextic and cut inserts for all the windows as well under the mattress. I also stuff a bunch of pink insulation in especially around the pipes in the kitchen and around the fressh water tank.
We kept the fresh water system winterized and simply used on of the big water cooler bottles and a hand pump for fresh water. We used the grey and black water tanks. I found an article on the internet that was a little heater for the tank dump area using a cap and a small nightlight bulb.
I dont think we used the forced air furnace at all just a ceramic heater in the main area, and a small personal heater in the bathroom and under our bed. But the 16' is pretty compact compared to a 30'er. During the Family Day weekend the temp got down to about -25 degrees C. The dump valve did freeze, I just waited till it warmed up again to dump the tanks.
I also took my Honda ES 2000i Generator and Mr Heater Big Buddy as backups.
To protect the underbody I sprayed it well with a rust inhibiting spray and took it to the carwash when I got home to wash off all the road salt.
Just starting to get the 22FB ready for this winter. Will do most of the same stuff.
Just a note about Macgregor. Its cool to be there in the winter as everyone there is there to enjoy winter. They even freeze one of the campground loops as a skating rink and it is lit up at night. We would also like to try the Pinery. We love camping at Craigleith, right by Blue Mountain and we keep hoping that they will eventually open it as well in the winter.
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Old 10-30-2015, 09:39 AM   #6
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Hi from AZ. . .ditto what Doug said. . .,regards, Craig
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Old 10-30-2015, 10:50 AM   #7
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We've spent the occasional night in the trailer with outside temperatures in the high teens and low 20's (F) on our way south and all I can say is I would not deliberately choose to do so again. In addition to all the issues raised in the previous posts, there is basically zero thermal break between the outside and inside skins of a modern Airstream. Since aluminum is a great conductor of heat and cold, that means that your walls become one large radiant cooler. You can burn a lot of propane trying to keep warm and still be uncomfortable, or you can just get a hotel room.

I occasionally read about people who spend the entire winter in their Airstream in places like Wyoming and I scratch my head trying to understand the appeal.
Bob Martel
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Old 10-30-2015, 06:40 PM   #8
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Welcome Bearskin. I think an Airstream is a great luxury travel trailer with quite unique construction methods that give it strength and lightweight for the size. That said, it would not be my choice for winter camping due to the thermal conductivity of the aluminum material. There are better four season campers out there than the Airstream.

Photo: Son's Globetrotter at a ski resort. Looks like fun, doesn't it.

Many RV parks have extended stay folks in them, even in cold climates like North Dakota oil fields. I see way more fifth wheel units that fit this scenario and very rarely see an Airstream.

Pulling a relatively heavy conventional trailer in slick road conditions with steep grades that might be prevalent in ski areas would not be my cup of tea. A fifth wheel would have a slight advantage here too.

But the other nine months of the year make for great traveling with your family in a shinny new Airstream.

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Old 11-02-2015, 07:59 AM   #9
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Thanks all for the great comments and feedback...lots of food for thought. I am a newb but really hope there is a way to comfortably and safely use an AS for ski tripping. Sounds like at a minimum there are some winter specific mods to be done to resolve issues like insulation, condensation and corrosion. I found the winter camping thread and am going through it in detail. It is very helpful...and encouraging. I think there must be a way to dial this in!
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:31 AM   #10
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You really might want to take this Winter off insofar as trailer hauling. As stated in your opening statement, you are new to RV'ing and to Airstreams. Please ask yourself if you want to learn how to tow, deal with traffic while towing, setting up/tearing down in the cold/snow and clean up the environmental abuse thrown at your expensive investment. Then there is the family safety factor, kids get excited when RV'ing (adults too!!) and rightly so, but with all of your other distractions someone might get hurt. I have a few years RV'ing experience and live in upstate NY even so, I would still be very careful traveling in Winter conditions avoiding it if possible. Enjoy learning about your trailer and getting you and your family involved with other RV'ers over the Winter then when Spring comes, you'll be more than ready to get out there and camp. Good Luck!!!
Travel Safe,
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Old 11-02-2015, 11:24 AM   #11
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J5MM takes amazing photos. But almost everything is 100% gloss and not reality. Just saying.

Easyrider06 gave you some good advice.
Family of 5 exploring the USA with a Ram Power Wagon & Airstream in tow.
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Old 11-02-2015, 03:17 PM   #12
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Thanks Easyrider06, this is good advice. I am not yet an AS owner and am still researching so nothing will be happening anytime soon. My conclusion so far is that while it is possible to winter camp in an AS it is riskier, certainly not straightforward and probably wouldn't fall into a definition of "intended use", if it existed. There is work to be done to make it comfortable, convenient and safe in winter. And as far as road conditions go I think I would take the same approach as a boater or a pilot and just not go out if conditions were not safe.

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